Category Archives: The Last Ship Home

Review: The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb

Title: The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb
A Novel of Ellis Island
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 436 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: “Give me your tired, your poor … your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn’t a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures to ensure she will make it off the island, Alma fights for her dreams of becoming a translator, even as women are denied the chance.

As the two women face the misdeeds of a system known to manipulate and abuse immigrants searching for new hope in America, they form an unlikely friendship—and share a terrible secret—altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them.

This is a novel of the dark secrets of Ellis Island, when entry to “the land of the free” promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, and when immigrant strength and female friendship found ways to triumph even on the darkest days.

Inspired by true events and for fans of Kristina McMorris and Hazel Gaynor, The Next Ship Home holds up a mirror to our own times, deftly questioning America’s history of prejudice and exclusion while also reminding us of our citizens’ singular determination.


Based on real life events, The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb is an engrossing historical novel that exposes the darker side of Ellis Island.

In 1902, Francesca Ricci and her sister are bound for America and a brighter future. Their journey is harrowing as they endure unimaginable conditions in the depths of the ship. Francesca escapes the illnesses that plague the immigrants but her sister is very sick when they finally arrive at Ellis Island. Francesca is desperate to remain in America and she will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Alma Brauer begins working at Ellis Island the same day as the Ricci’s arrive. She is quiet and introspective so she is easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of people she must deal with every day. Alma’s beliefs about immigrants grow and evolve as she helps translate for some of the new arrivals. She is also shocked by the corruption she witnesses but at the urging of others, Alma does not report these deplorable actions.

The two young women strike up an endearing friendship as Alma and her brother Fritz help Francesca settle into her new life in New York. As Ellis Island undergoes close scrutiny to root out corruption, Alma despairs when her parents’ set in motion a plan for her future.  Unbeknownst to her, her way out of an untenable agreement rests on Francesca’s shoulders.

The Next Ship Home is a captivating historical novel that shines a much-needed light on the horrendous treatment of immigrants when they are most vulnerable. Francesca and Alma’s experiences reveal how powerless and vulnerable women are during the time period. The corruption and exploitation of immigrants at Ellis Island is appalling as is the wide-spread prejudice and misconceptions about the people searching for a better life. Heather Webb brings this meticulously researched and well-written novel to a heartfelt and uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Fiction, Heather Webb, Historical, Rated B+, Sourcebooks Landmark, The Last Ship Home